BATON ROUGE, La. – Junior Ali Kilponen tossed her fifth shutout this season and 10th of her career as No. 21/23 LSU (25-16, 6-7 SEC) shutout South Carolina (23-19, 2-11 SEC) 4-0 in the series opener Thursday night at Tiger Park. LSU recorded its 10th shutout victory this season.
Kilponen (14-4) started strong as she retired nine of 10 batters in her first round through the order and had four strikeouts through three innings of work. Kilponen proceeded to sit down the next seven batters and finished the game with 10 strikeouts and allowed three hits in her 10th complete game this season.
Senior Shelbi Sunseri hit her 12th home run of the season and now has 45 dingers in her career. Sunseri led the team with two RBIs, while sophomores Raeleen Gutierrez and Danieca Coffey contributed one hit and one RBI, respectively.
In the bottom of the second inning, junior Georgia Clark got on base with a walk and Sunseri crushed a 2-1 pitch for a two-run shot to give LSU its first pair of runs.
The Tigers crossed another two runs in the fifth inning when Coffey reached on a fielder’s choice that resulted in sophomore Cait Calland and freshman Sydney Peterson touching home plate. Both reached on walks. Kilponen sealed the game by recording four strikeouts in the sixth and seventh inning combined.
Head Coach Beth Torina
On the performance of the team defensively…
“They have been playing good defense the last few games. I think it is a big key. I always say, getting two out of three between pitching, defense and offense wins every day. We pitched well today and played great defense, and that is a big reason for the win.
On moving forward for the rest of the weekend…
“We are always working. I think it is easier to improve after a win than it is from a loss. It is a little easier to go back and analyze some things without feeling so frustrated. Learning from a win is a much better scenario than learning in a loss.”
Pitcher Ali Kilponen
On her performance on the mound…
“I thought it was good. There are some good takeaways that I can use from today and there are also some things that I can improve so I can be better if I have to go in tomorrow.”
On how the defense performed behind her…
“My defense was incredible today. Taylor [Pleasants] and Danieca [Coffey] were incredible making the plays that they did. It is cool being on the mound when you have a defense working that hard for you.”
Catcher Cait Calland
On the defense tonight…
“It was lights out. It’s easy to play when your pitcher is dealing on the mound like Ali [Kilponen] was. She did well, and behind her, we were lights out. It is awesome to play with.”
On Kilponen’s performance…
“She was so good. I think it’s just a representation of what she does in practice every day. That’s the Ali Kilponen that we all know and see every day at practice, and I think it’s so cool that it paid off for her today.”
LSU and South Carolina will play game two on Good Friday, April 14, at 6 p.m. CT. The game will be streamed on SECN+.
(Press Release provided by LSU Athletics)